Pakistan PM Imran Khan said the Afghan Taliban consider the American withdrawal from Afghanistan a victory. Speaking with Chinese journalists, Imran Khan said the situation in Afghanistan is worrying as the Taliban seem not moving toward a political settlement.
“The Taliban who were opposing the Americans, considered that [US forces’ withdrawal] a victory,” Khan was quoted by state-run Pakistan Television as saying.
However, the premier expressed deep concerns over the growing violence in Afghanistan.
In the wake of the US withdrawal, the Taliban are on a nationwide offensive, capturing over 100 districts in the last few months.
The Afghan government has also turned to the local armed militias at grassroots levels to push back the advancing Taliban.
Khan feared a civil war will have consequences for Afghanistan and Pakistan as well.
“So the worrying thing for Pakistan is that if Afghanistan [moves to] a civil war, just like it had a civil war after the Soviets left in 1989, then after Afghanistan the country that will suffer the most is going to be Pakistan,” Khan said.
“So, therefore, we want there to be a political settlement at all costs.”
The latest observation by Long War Journal, an American news website, suggested that out of 398 districts in Afghanistan, the Taliban now control 107 while the government controls 92 and some 199 remain contested between the two.
However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid last week claimed the group controls 165 districts across the country. His claim could not be verified from independent sources.
America’s ‘biggest mistake’
Khan termed the American war in Afghanistan as their “biggest mistake”, saying this war has created a deep division in the society because thousands of families have suffered.
“Let me just say the biggest mistake made by the Americans was that they kept on trying to find a military solution in Afghanistan, when there was not one,” he said.
“It has created deep divisions in the advanced society. When a war goes on for that long. When on both sides, people have died, families have suffered, [now] to bring them back together, it’s not very easy. It takes time,” Khan said.
Addressing the country’s parliament Wednesday, Khan regretted his country’s participation in the so-called war against terrorism, saying Islamabad will no longer be a partner with the US in the conflict.
“We can be partners (with the US) in peace but never in conflict,” Khan said, referring to Washington’s reported demand for bases on Pakistan’s soil to operate its counter-terrorism operations inside Afghanistan after the pullout.
Khan said his country lost over 70,000 lives and more than $150 billion to the American war, but the US never appreciated Pakistan’s sacrifices.